Encourages Visits To 66 Public-Use Fields, Other Events
Virginia isn't only for
lovers anymore. Pilots who fly into Virginia airports may earn
rewards from the state's aviation department, as part of the
Virginia Aviation Ambassadors Program, for trying new destinations
around the commonwealth.
The program is part of the Virginia Department of Aviation's
efforts to promote the state's 66 public-use airports, reports The
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Officials also hope to
encourage pilots to attend state fly-ins and safety seminars, as
well as Virginia's aviation museums.
The program has three participation levels, and is open to all
pilots and passengers. Participants keep track of the airports they
visit, and events they attend, by collecting stamps... which are
then placed in a program passport.
AOPA member Tom Mahoney tells the pilot advocacy organization he
completed the program, and earned a leather flying jacket. More
importantly, though, it provided him several adventures that he may
not have tried otherwise.
"It was great to explore the whole state and land at so many
different airports," he said. "As pilots we always practice the
same approaches at the same airports, but this gave me experience
landing in many different environments. Some runways are real
narrow, there are a few that aren’t paved, and some sit right
on top of mountains. Some are real short, and there’s one you
can’t land at."
That airport, of course, is Ronald Reagan Washington National
Airport, located just outside the nation's capital. DCA is
technically a public-use airport... but only if that "public" is
flying on commercial aircraft, no GA planes allowed. But that
doesn't mean pilots can't visit DCA, and earn credit for doing so;
they simply must drive there.
From his own personal
experience, Mahoney says, the program is a great motivator for
trying something different... instead of always flying the same old
$100 hamburger run. The program has also encouraged new pilots
Mahoney knows to spread their wings.
There's little reason other states couldn't follow Virginia's
lead, to give their own airports some much-needed, positive
"I’d love to see other states do something similar, even
offering a patch or other small incentive," Mahoney said.
"It’s a great way to support GA airports, businesses, and